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Your secret weapon

I sometimes tell our student leaders that we have a brilliant plan for reaching the campus.

As their ears perk up I ask, “Do you want to hear our plan?” Then I tell them, “Our brilliant plan is YOU!”

They usually laugh, but this strategy is no laughing matter. The best way to reach students is with students.

Training and empowering students to live on mission is by far your most effective strategy for reaching the campus and fulfilling the Great Commission.

You will benefit greatly if you put together a small core team of student leaders and volunteers.

Your core team doesn’t need to be large or full of hard core disciples right away. They do need to be teachable and willing to work hard.

Our ministry started with my wife and me, two guys from our church (one was 16 and the other was a freshman), and another guy I met on Facebook.

I met personally with each one of them and shared the vision and simply asked them, “Are you in?”

After they committed to being involved I basically treated them like staff. I expected a lot from them and they stepped up!

They worked like dogs the first month helping us get the ministry off the ground.

I am so grateful God brought them to us. Now, one of those first core team members is on staff with us.

It doesn’t take a large core team to help start your ministry.

Even if you have two or three humble and zealous people you are ready to get started.

Each semester is another chance to scout out potential core team members and prayerfully select them as potential leaders.

Look for people who are developing as people of “F.A.I.T.H.” Faithful, Available, Initiative, Teachable and most importantly have a Heart for God and people.

Once we narrow it down we “pitch it fast” to potential members because this is a significant opportunity for training, but also a very serious responsibility.

If there is any doubt about their readiness don’t ask them to join.

It is better to have a small core team that multiplies in a healthy way than to have “issues” that come with giving leadership to the wrong people.

Once you are ready to ask someone to join the team simply cast vision and ask them to commit to the expectations for being on the core team.

Jesus modeled this when planting his ministry by selecting a small group of apostles who would help him reach the area.

Be aggressive in calling people to commitment. Some will be ready to commit, but others will not.

Don’t pressure people and make sure to allow for people to be involved even if they are not on the core team.

You can find the “Core Team Expectations” for our ministry in appendix two of my free eBook Tips for Starting A College Ministry”.

I would suggest you put together something similar.

Our core team meets once a week for two hours of training, planning, and prayer. This is one of our most important investments.

We have an intentional training process that we want to take everyone on our leadership team through.

We hope to train them in vision, character, skills for ministry, and life.

One great resource that I would recommend every leadership team go through together is “The Fuel and The Flame” by Steve Shadrach.

Our staff spends significant time investing in these core team members personally, in addition to those we are pursuing evangelistically.

We then delegate most responsibilities to these students with regular coaching, so they can be successful in leading.

One of my goals as a leader is to delegate and lead in a way that if I stepped away, the ministry would still thrive in my absence.

This has happened several times during intense seasons of growth and outreach due to sickness in my family.

Because of the time spent growing this core team they were able to step up and fill in easily.

My commitment to empower students and staff also enabled our ministry to continue to make disciples, even in my absence.

One time I was out of town for a conference and I received a series of texts from student leaders informing me that 6 freshman students made decisions for Christ that day through personal conversations!

I guess I should go out of town more often!

If you intentionally build a healthy leadership culture in your ministry, your impact will multiply on campus.

A warning! It is important to spend time discipling those who are on your core team, but make sure to keep your focus on “getting the job done” evangelistically.

It’s all about “D.I.C.E.” Discipleship In the Context of abundant Evangelism.

A common mistake leaders make is once they have a leadership core they “settle down” and mainly invest in relationships with these student leaders.

This can quickly turn your ministry into a “holy huddle” of only committed Christians who are no longer very effective at reaching the campus.

Another thing to consider is the ratios between Christians and non- Christians in your evangelistic environments.

The more strong leaders you have the more non-Christians you will need to be reaching in order to stay effective in reaching the campus.

Reflection questions:

Who are some students or volunteers that you could challenge right now to join your core team?

What are the most essential things you want to train your leaders in? What do you want in the “DNA” of your leaders?

How will you select, recruit, and empower your student leaders?

This post was adapted from Paul’s free eBook “Tips for Starting A College Ministry

  • Brent Reinke

    Love this idea. There are a handful of leaders who are waiting to be called to a challenge like this, and without it they will not reach their full laboring potential. Both the students and the staff are hurt if you don’t start a core team!

    • Jennifer Moser

      Thank you for your thoughts Brent, they’re encouraging!

  • Steve Shadrach

    THANKS Paul. Love your heart and passion, bro. Lets keep raising up and graduating students who are committed to winning others to Christ, building them up in the faith, and equipping them to reproduce themselves!